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Thursday 26 November 2009

Black Sesame Madeleines

Yesterday, when I was rummaging around in my box of cake tins in the spare room (which I am quite sure is not where the majority of people keep their cake tins, but sadly, I am without a choice in the matter - we have terrible condensation at the back of our kitchen cupboards, and until we get the problem sorted, I won't put anything in them.), I came across the madeleine tin that I bought for about three Euros in a French hypermarket donkey's years ago when we went to stay in Dave's cottage.

I am loathe to say that it was a waste of money, but the fact remains that I have only ever used it twice.

My first thought was to put it in the charity box. We moved house recently, and as such, the thought of hanging on to anything I don't need fills me with dread. I hate having too much 'stuff'. When we move, it all has to be either sorted out and given away anyway (not a fun way to spend a weekend) or moved with us (ditto).

But then I came to my senses. It's only a madeleine tin; it's tiny! And rather pretty. And I like madeleines. So then I decided that since we were having friends over for dinner anyway, pudding was going to be madeleines. You see? No need to throw away any bake ware at all.

Now. The first time I made madeleines, I just followed the recipe that came with the tin. It was a terrible mistake; they were awful. Really dry and tasteless. So the next time, I decided to try a Nigella Lawson recipe for madeleines flavoured with rose water, and it worked brilliantly.

I couldn't resist getting my teapot out for these pictures.
It's from Tokoname, near Nagoya, an area famous for pottery.

We were going to have Japanese food for dinner though, so I wanted to change flavours a bit. I'd made some green tea ice cream already, and so decided that black sesame would be a good flavour for the little cakes to go with it. Especially since the sesame seeds on my shelf were the only vaguely Japanese ingredient I had to use for dessert. Soy sauce madeleines didn't sound quite so inviting...

So the flavour was sorted, but I didn't have a recipe. Which brings me rather conveniently to something else.

Recently, I've started to dislike following other people's recipes. I'm beginning to feel like I have been cooking and playing with food long enough that I don't need to, which is actually quite liberating, especially when it comes to making cakes and baking - I used to do EVERYTHING by the (cook)book. Now I usually just take inspiration, as opposed to instruction, from food writers. I'm not trying to make myself sound like an incredible cook - I am just being honest with you. Nigella (my favourite of them all - that woman knows deliciousness), anyway, has always admitted to doing the same.

So for these madeleines, I followed her method, but not recipe: I added more flour, more sugar and less butter. This wasn't because I thought they would taste better. I just had an unsteady hand with the dry ingredients, and didn't have quite enough butter to follow her recipe exactly, as I had to keep some back for something else (Christmas cake, as it happens).

I have to say that they were very good. Grinding the sesame seeds really helps make their flavour stronger, and gets rid of any gritty texture, which I wanted, obviously, to avoid.

I think madeleine making might become something of a habit, you know: there's something really exciting about making cakes that only take 4 minutes to bake. It's rapid fire baking!

Give them a try. Or, if you make some other crazy flavours, do let me know how they are. Unless you decide to go with the soy sauce...

Black Sesame Madeleines

You will need:

1 tbsp black or white sesame seeds
40g butter, plus a little extra to grease the tin
1 egg
50g caster sugar
60g plain flour, sifted
icing sugar

  1. Lightly toast the seeds in a dry frying pan. Cool, crush in a pestle and mortar and set aside. Melt the butter, cool and set aside.
  2. Using an electric hand mixer, cream the egg and sugar for 5 minutes. It will triple in volume.
  3. Add the flour, and fold in gently.
  4. Now pour in the cooled melted butter, and crushed sesame seeds. Mix together gently and then leave the mixture to rest in the fridge for an hour.
  5. Remove the mixture from the fridge and let stand at room temperature for half an hour. Pre-heat the oven to 220°C.
  6. Brush the madeleine tin with melted butter. Using a tablespoon, put some batter into each shell-shaped indentation, and bake in the oven for about 4 minutes. Keep an eye on them though - you may need to give them less time.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 18 madeleines


  1. Oh i love madelines! Love lemon ones!! these snd delish! lol im glad im not the only one who buys random stuff and doesnt put it to use til one random day!

  2. You should see my baking shelf, Bigarade. There's no room on it, I have so many things put aside for a 'rainy day'...

  3. LOL!! oh im such a squirrel i cant bin things :( ... its good to have stuff,you never know when youmay need it!
    but i did pick upa bargain today!

  4. I like the idea of sesame seeds in this. It sounds delicious!

  5. Great stuff... I wish I could bake madeleines eggless :( Perhaps I shall try black sesame cupcakes?

  6. if Nigella is the goddess of food (at least that's what she says ) you are the god of the Madeleines !! congratulations !!
    Pierre from paris

  7. Chocolate Shavings - I'm not going to lie. It tastes like peanut butter, but with a glamorous edge. Does that not entice you to get baking? :)

    Sanjana - You don't eat eggs? OMG. They are Mr. Other P's major food group! Loved your cupcakes with glitter btw.

    Pierre - T'es trop gentil! What do you think of the recipe? I bet you make a mean madeleine!

  8. These madeleines are lovely! I know exactly what you mean about not following recipes exactly. I usually do just the first time I try something brand new, to see what will happen. And after that - all bets are off!

  9. I hate moving, too! The only good thing I can say about it is it's a great way to clean your cupboards out.......Madelines are such a wonderful little bite. Love your photos!

  10. Mr P, these look fantastic! Sesame seeds in madelines sounds divine. They always remind me of Proust...

    I love the photos by the way. And the plate - and green tea was a great touch, good colors. Ok, ok, I'll stop gushing now! :)

  11. omg i love sesame! that's a brilliant idea ... uh, how do you know the madeleines are done? i've never made them before ... not that i even have a madeleine pan ... ha ha ..

  12. I am such a fan of madelines they go so well with a cup of tea or coffee.

  13. I love madelines but have never made them myself. I should try soon. Thnaks for sharing.

  14. oh how beautifully done these are so professinal beautiful congrats on the perfect Madelines :)

  15. I just made black sesame cookies! These madeleines look so moist and delightful, can you believe I"ve never had a madeleine? I am eager to try them, do you recommend a place to get the molding pans for them? Also! I have an award on my site to give you, I always enjoy your funny blog :)

  16. Black sesame seeds? What a great idea! Fantastic recipe!

    I will definitely be trying this! Thanks!


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